District of Columbia

Washington D.C. does not have a constitutional provision for the right to bear arms.


Washington, D.C. is a shall-issue district with concealed weapons permits issued by D.C. Metropolitan Police. All firearms must be registered, and this process acts as a permit to purchase. Individuals cannot possess ammunition without a valid registration of a firearm. Open carry is illegal. D.C. Concealed Carry Pistol Licenses (CCPLs) are required in order to concealed carry and require a firearms training course. You must be at least 21 years old. D.C. is neither a “stand your ground” nor a “duty to retreat” jurisdiction. You do not have to retreat or consider retreating when you believe that you are in danger of death or serious bodily harm. Generally, you may not use deadly force to protect your property.

Reciprocal Carry

Washington D.C. will not recognize another state’s license to carry a firearm. There are exceptions for legally registered firearms and authority to carry a firearm in certain places and for certain purposes. D.C. Official Code § 22-4504.01.

Duty To Notify Police Officer

Washington, D.C. requires a licensee to possess the license and registration certificate for the pistol being carried. If a LEO initiates an investigative stop of a licensee carrying a pistol, the licensee must immediately disclose to the LEO that he or she is carrying a concealed pistol and present the license and registration certificate.

Carrying Firearms In Vehicles

Washington D.C. prohibits carrying firearms in vehicles without a permit unless the firearm is unloaded, stored separately from ammunition, and neither the firearm nor ammunition are accessible from the passenger compartment.

NFA Items

All NFA items are prohibited in Washington D.C.

Self-Defense Laws

Washington D.C. does not have a Castle Doctrine or SYG law. There is a duty to retreat when attacked, and you may use deadly force in self-defense only as a last resort, if retreating is impossible or cannot be done safely.

Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

D.C. law states you cannot carry in a place that serves alcohol but gives exemptions to places that hold a Class C/R or D/R license. These are restaurant licenses for food and beverages with spirits, beer and wine allowed for sale on the premises for consumption. D.C. forbids a licensed carrier from consuming or being under the influence when carrying.

Do “No Gun Signs” Have The Force Of Law?

If a property or establishment has a “No Guns” sign or the person in lawful possession communicates to you that guns are not allowed, you are prohibited from carrying on the property or into the establishment. Failure to obey such signs or verbal warnings constitutes trespass.

Open Carry

Open carry is illegal in the District of Columbia.

Note: On July 25, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a permanent injunction stopping the local Washington, D.C. government from denying people the right to carry concealed handguns in the nation’s capital unless they could convince local officials they had a special and compelling need to protect themselves (the ‘good reason’ requirement). However, the decision was put on hold to allow D.C. to appeal. D.C. filed its appeal for rehearing on August 24, 2017. A decision from the rehearing is currently pending.

Waiting Period

Washington D.C. imposes a ten (10) day waiting period before purchasing a firearm.

Universal Background Checks

Background checks are mandatory for all firearm sales, and transfers between private parties, except between family members, must go through a licensed dealer. This only applies to sales made within the District of Columbia. Sales made by District of Columbia firearms owners outside of the District of Columbia must only conform to that state’s transfer law.

High Capacity Magazine Ban

The intrastate manufacture, sale, and possession of magazines capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds is prohibited.

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